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Séminaires & Congrès

13, 2006, p. 313–341



Matthieu Romagny & Stefan Wewers

Abstract. — This paper is intended to serve as a general introduction to the theory of
Hurwitz spaces and as an overview over the different methods for their construction.
Résumé (Espaces de Hurwitz). — Cet article a pour but de donner une introduction
à la théorie des espaces de Hurwitz et un aperçu des différentes méthodes pour leur

1. Introduction
1.1. The classical Hurwitz space and the moduli of curves. — The classical
Hurwitz space first appeared in the work of Clebsch [Cle72] and Hurwitz [Hur91] as
an auxiliary object to study the moduli space of curves. Let X be a smooth projective
curve of genus g over C. A rational function f : X → P1 of degree n is called simple if
there are at least n − 1 points on X over every point of P1 . Such a cover has exactly
r := 2g + 2n − 2 branch points. Let Hn,r denote the set of isomorphism classes of
simple branched covers of P1 of degree n with r branch points. Hurwitz [Hur91]
showed that the set Hn,r has a natural structure of a complex manifold. In fact, one
can realize Hn,r as a finite unramified covering
Ψn,r : Hn,r −→ Ur := Pr − ∆r ,
where ∆r is the discriminant hypersurface. (Note that the space Ur has a natural
interpretation as the set of all subsets of P1 of cardinality r. The map Ψn,r sends the
class of a simple cover f : X → P1 to the branch locus of f .) Using a combinatorial
calculation of Clebsch [Cle72] which describes the action of the fundamental group
of Ur on the fibers of Ψn,r , Hurwitz showed that Hn,r is connected.

2000 Mathematics Subject Classification. — 14H30, 14D22.
Key words and phrases. — Covers of curves, Galois theory, Hurwitz spaces.

c Séminaires et Congrès 13, SMF 2006


Later Severi [Sev21] proved that for n ≥ g + 1 every curve X of genus g admits a
simple cover f : X → P1 of degree n. In other words, the natural map
Hn,r −→ Mg
which maps the class of the cover f : X → P1 to the class of the curve X is surjective.
Using the connectedness of Hn,r , Severi concluded that Mg is connected.
Although Mg is an algebraic variety and can be defined over Z, the proof of its
connectedness sketched above is essentially topological. It therefore does not immedi-
ately yield the connectedness of Mg ⊗Fp for a prime p. In order to fill this gap, Fulton
[Ful69] gave a purely algebraic construction of the Hurwitz space Hn,r . In his theory,
Hn,r is a scheme, of finite type over Z, which represents a certain moduli functor. It is
equipped with a natural étale morphism Ψn,r : Hn,r → Ur which becomes finite when
restricted to Spec Z[1/n!]. In this setup, Fulton was able to prove the irreducibility of
Hn,r ⊗ Fp for every prime p > n, using the irreducibility of Hn,r ⊗ C. With the same
reasoning as above, one can deduce the irreducibility of Mg ⊗ Fp for p > g + 1. (At
about the same time, Deligne and Mumford proved the irreducibility of Mg ⊗ Fp for
all p, using much more sophisticated methods.)
Further applications of Hurwitz spaces to the moduli of curves were given by Harris
and Mumford [HM82]. They construct a compactification H̄n,r of Hn,r . Points on
the boundary ∂ H̄n,r := H̄n,r − Hn,r correspond to a certain type of degenerate covers
between singular curves called admissible covers. The map Hn,r → Mg extends to a
map H̄n,r → M̄g , where M̄g is the Deligne–Mumford compactification of Mg . The
geometry of this map near the boundary yields interesting results on the geometry
of M̄g .

1.2. Hurwitz spaces in Galois theory. — Branched covers of the projective line
have more applications besides the moduli of curves. For instance, in the context of the
regular inverse Galois problem one is naturally led to study Galois covers f : X → P1
with a fixed Galois group G. Here arithmetic problems play a prominent role, e.g.
the determination of the minimal field of definition of a Galois cover.
Fried [Fri77] first pointed out that the geometry of the moduli spaces of branched
covers of P1 with a fixed Galois group G and a fixed number of branch points car-
ries important arithmetic information on the individual covers that are parameter-
ized. Matzat [Mat91] reformulated these ideas in a field theoretic language and gave
some concrete applications to the regular inverse Galois problem. Fried and Völklein
[FV91] gave the following precise formulation of the connection between geometry
and arithmetic. For a field k of characteristic 0, let Hr,G (k) denote the set of iso-
morphism classes of pairs (f, τ ), where f : X → P1k is a regular Galois cover with r

branch points, defined over k, and τ : G → Gal(X/P1 ) is an isomorphism of G with
the Galois group of f . Suppose for simplicity that G is center-free. Then it is proved
in [FV91] that the set Hr,G (k) is naturally the set of k-rational points of a smooth


Z of finite type over Z such that k-rational points correspond to tamely ramified G-Galois covers over k for all fields k.G of Hr. but only for fields k of characteristic 0 (and assuming that G is center-free). One can also expect that the construction of Harris and Mumford extends to the Galois situation and yields a nice compactification H̄r. that Hr.G .G. It is then shown to have a natural structure of a Q-variety with the property that k-rational points on Hr. The general construction. e.G is first constructed as a complex manifold. it is shown in [FV91] that Hr. we refer to the other contributions of this volume.G.4. see [Rom02]. HURWITZ SPACES 315 variety Hr. In some very special cases one can show. The field k is the field of moduli.G. Moreover.Z . in a more general context. For instance.G : Hr. The point of view of algebraic stacks has further advantages. Finally.Z is only a coarse and not a fine moduli space. Hr. For instance.G. The present paper is intended to serve as a general introduction to the theory of Hurwitz spaces and as an overview over the different methods for their construction.Z should have good reduction at all primes p which do not divide the order of G. gives an example with r = 4 and G = M24 . then the Hurwitz space Hr. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 .G. This has interesting consequences for the structure of the absolute Galois group of Q. see [FV91].G has at least one absolutely irreducible component defined over Q if r is sufficiently large.G correspond to G-Galois covers defined over k. Moreover. For applications to arithmetic problems and Galois theory. For instance. From the work of Fulton one can expect that there exists a scheme Hr. 1. Using this braid action. — In [FV91] the Hurwitz space Hr.G becomes awkward without the systematic use of stacks. This example yields the only known regular realizations of the Mathieu group M24 . the construction of the Harris–Mumford compactification H̄r. a k-rational point on Hr.G has a connected component which is a rational variety over Q and hence has many rational points.Z of Hr. at least over Z[1/|G|]. Then these rational points correspond to regular Galois extensions of Q(t) with Galois group G. To deal with this difficulty it is very natural to work with algebraic stacks.g. we have a finite étale cover of Q-varieties Ψr. Hurwitz spaces as algebraic stacks are useful for the computation of geometric properties of the moduli of curves.Z corresponds to a tame G-cover f : X → P1k̄ defined over the algebraic closure of k. These expectations are proved in [Wew98]. If the group G has a nontrivial center. even if G is center-free. Picard groups. It also provides a much clearer understanding of the connection of Hurwitz spaces with the moduli space of curves with level structure. but not necessarily a field of definition of f . §9.G −→ Ur whose associated topological covering map is determined by an explicit action of the fundamental group of Ur (called the Hurwitz braid group) on the fibres of Ψr.G . defined over Q.G . using the braid action on the fibres of Ψr. [Mat91].3.G.

316 M. 2. For a scheme S. A G-cover of X is a Galois cover ∼ f : Y → X together with an isomorphism τ : G → Aut(f ). It is called tame if there exists a smooth relative divisor D ⊂ X such that the following holds: (a) the natural map D → S is finite and étale. separable and regular field extension L/K (here ‘regular’ means that k is algebraically closed in L). Two G-covers f1 : Y1 → X and f2 : Y2 → X of the same curve X over S are called ∼ isomorphic if there exists an isomorphism h : Y1 → Y2 such that f2 ◦ h = f1 and g ◦ h = h ◦ g for all g ∈ G. (b) the restriction of f : Y → X to the open subset U := X − D is étale. and in particular for pointing out a gap in the proof of Proposition 4. we say that the cover f has r branch points.G as a coarse moduli space. We denote by Aut(f ) the group of automorphisms of Y which leave f fixed. ROMAGNY & S. a cover of X is a finite. — Let S be a scheme. The cover f is Galois (resp. Usually we will identify the group Aut(f ) with G. Hurwitz spaces as coarse moduli spaces In this section we define the Hurwitz space Hr. 2.3. 2. A cover f : Y → X is called Galois if it is separable and the group Aut(f ) acts transitively on every (geometric) fibre of f . where k is a field. and (c) for every geometric point s : Spec k → D. 2. Then a curve X over S is uniquely determined by its function field K := k(X). If this is the case.G (S) := { f : X → P1S | deg(D/S) = r }/∼ = SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . using the language of schemes. If X is a curve over S. Define G Hr. By a curve over S we mean a smooth and proper morphism X → S whose (geometric) fibres are connected and 1-dimensional.2. Let us fix a finite group G and an integer r ≥ 3.1. where Y is another curve over S. flat and surjective S-morphism f : Y → X. the ramification index of f along D at s is > 1 and prime to the residue characteristic of s.10. A cover f : Y → X corresponds one-to- one to a finite. Suppose that S = Spec k. WEWERS Acknowledgments. — The authors would like to thank the referee for a careful reading of a previous version of this manuscript. tamely ramified at all places of K which are trivial on k). we denote by P1S the relative projective line over S. Basic definitions. tame) if and only if the extension L/K is Galois (resp. Let G be a finite group and X a curve over S. the divisor D is called the branch locus of f . If the degree of D → S is constant and equal to r.

one can prove a slightly weaker result without this extra assumption (see e.1: Corollary 2. Theorem 2. τ ) be a G-cover over a scheme S.k . this is true only under an additional assumption (if and only if the group G is center free). Then there exists a unique morphism of schemes H → H0 which makes the following diagram commute: Hr. see [FV91]. — Suppose that the center of G is trivial. H0 ). H). together with a morphism of functors (from schemes to sets) (1) Hr. Let (f. In other words.e.G (S). (i) Suppose there is another scheme H0 and a morphism of functors Hr.G (S) is a typical example of a moduli problem. The functor S 7→ Hr. smooth and of finite type over Z. Fortunately. and call it the Hurwitz space for tame G-Galois covers of P1 with r branch points. such that the following holds.G (S) → HomZ (S.G (S) // HomZ (S.2. Hence we deduce from Theorem 2. σ) is the center of G.G (k) (i.g. [Wew98]).Z is a fine moduli space. We say that the scheme H = Hr. It is a general fact that a coarse moduli space representing objects with no nontrivial automorphisms is actually a fine moduli space. H) NNN NNN NNN NN''  HomZ (S.G. One would like to show that there is a fine moduli space representing this functor. For k of characteristic zero this was first proved by Fried and Völklein. If S = Spec k then Hr. HURWITZ SPACES 317 as the set of isomorphism classes of tame G-covers of P1S with r branch points. a scheme H together with an isomorphism of functors (from schemes to sets) Hr. i. the scheme Hr. H). 2. Unfortunately.G (S) −→ HomZ (S.Z .G (S) ∼ = HomZ (S. In §4 we will prove it for an arbitrary field k. Then (1) is a bijection for all schemes S.G.1. In particular the theorem says that for any algebraically closed field k the set Hr.G. H0 ).4.G.e. — There exists a scheme H = Hr.G is the set of G-Galois extensions of the rational function field k(t). up to isomorphism. (ii) If S is the spectrum of an algebraically closed field then (1) is a bijection. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . It follows immediately from the definition that the group of automorphisms of the pair (f. the set of isomorphism classes of regular and tamely ramified G-Galois extensions of k(t)) has a natural structure of a smooth k-variety Hr.Z is the coarse moduli space associated to the functor S 7→ Hr.

Riemann’s Existence Theorem.1) is concerned. For instance.5.G. for the moment.e. Theorem 2. and arithmetic questions dealing with their differences can be quite subtle.G . if G is center-free then for any field k (not necessarily algebraically closed) the set Hr.G with the quotient of Hr. Analytic construction In this section we describe the Hurwitz space Hr. See e.) Replacing ‘isomorphism class’ by ‘weak isomorphism class’ in the definition of the moduli problem Hr. in [Wew98] a much more general version of Theorem 2.G (k) (i. In the first three sections of the present article we restrict ourselves to the moduli problem Hr.1 has many variants and generalizations. . Theorem 2.e.G as an analytic space.G (S)/PGL2 (S). one can regard G-Galois covers f : Y → P1 as mere covers (i. tr } ⊂ P1C . .1 carries red over to this new situation and shows the existence of a coarse moduli space Hr.C the set of isomorphism classes of G-covers of P1C with branch locus D. using Riemann’s Existence Theorem. 2. Hence red Hr.g. as far as the construction of the corresponding Hurwitz spaces (i.G → Hr.G red identifies Hr.3.e. However. it makes no essential difference which variant one is looking at. look at non Galois covers. It is easy to see that the natural map Hr. or one can order the branch points. This general approach will be discussed in §4. the proof of the relevant version of Theorem 2.G. a finite subset D = {t1 . 3. the other contributions for this volume. two G-covers f1 : Y1 → P1S and f2 : Y2 → P1S over the same scheme S are called weakly isomorphic if there exist isomorphisms ∼ ∼ φ : Y1 → Y2 and ψ : P1 → P1 such that f2 ◦ φ = ψ ◦ f1 and g ◦ φ = φ ◦ g for all g ∈ G.1 is proved from which all the special cases discussed above can be deduced. . . ROMAGNY & S. — Let us fix.G under the natural action of PGL2 . of cardinality r ≥ 0.G . For instance. SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . one forgets the isomorphism ∼ τ : G → Aut(f )). we red get a new moduli problem S 7→ Hr.G . 3.G is normal. (Note that ψ may be regarded as an element of PGL2 (S). We also prove the analog of Theorem 2. In fact. There are many more variants of the moduli problem Hr. In general.318 M. red called a reduced Hurwitz space. One variant which is impor- tant in arithmetic applications comes up when we weaken the notion of ‘isomorphism’ between two G-covers. WEWERS In particular.k . the set of isomorphism classes of regular and tamely ramified G-Galois extensions of k(t)) can be identified with the set of k-rational points of a smooth k-variety Hr.G .1.1 in the context of analytic spaces. All these variants are important in applications.G (S) := Hr. We denote by HD. it is not smooth over Z.

there exists a presentation Y π1 (U. 3.2. x0 ) → G (well defined up to composition by an inner automorphism of G).C −→ nir (G). It is not hard to see that an element g ∈ nir (G) gives rise to a ramified Galois cover f an : Y an → P1C of compact Riemann surfaces. Fix a G-cover f : X → P1C with branch locus D = {t1 . which is sometimes called Riemann’s Existence Theorem.C has a natural structure of a complex manifold.G. The set Ur. Let f : X → P1C be a G-cover with branch locus D. . §2. as follows. We consider f as a finite. . . Set gi := ρf (γi ). . . Note that the subsets U(Ci ) form a basis of SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . G = hgi i.C with t0i ∈ Ci . The most fundamental fact about G-covers over C is the following theorem.C consisting of divisors D0 = {t01 . HURWITZ SPACES 319 Set U := P1C − D and choose a basepoint x0 ∈ U . . see e. . . Let U(Ci ) denote the subset of Ur.g.G. We endow the set Hr. Deformation of covers. The restriction of f to V := f −1 (U ) is a regular covering projection with group of deck transformations G. For a proof.C with a topology. Let Ψr : Hr. — The correspondence f 7→ g induces a bijection ∼ HD.C −→ Ur. [Völ96]. gr ) is an element of the set Y Er (G) := { g = (g1 . It corresponds to a surjective homomorphism ρf : π1 (U. Theorem 3. holomorphic map between compact Riemann surfaces. . . . . Let C1 . Then g = (g1 . .1 consists in showing that f an is actually algebraic. . .C := { D ⊂ P1C | |D| = r }. Let Hr. . t0r } ∈ Ur. . .G. tr .C denote the map which associates to a G-cover f : X → P1C the branch locus of f . . . tr }.G. x0 ) = hγ1 .1. — Fix an integer r ≥ 0 and set Ur. . Cr ⊂ P1C be disjoint disk-like neighborhoods of the points t1 . i where γi is represented by a simple closed loop winding around the missing point ti . By elementary topology. The most substantial part of the proof of Theorem 3. gi = 1 }.C be the set of isomorphism classes of G-covers of P1C with r branch points. . . γr | γi = 1i. . . . i We let G act on Er (G) by simultaneous conjugation and denote by nir (G) := Er (G)/G the set of (inner) Nielsen classes. . see [Spa66]. gr ) | gi ∈ G − {1}. counterclockwise. . and let ρ : π1 (P1C −D) → G denote the correspond- ing group homomorphism.

— (i) The map Ψr is a covering projection. — By construction. Hr. The topology we put on Hr. Moreover. Then we have the following result. For any D0 ∈ U(Ci ) we have natural isomorphisms (2) π1 (P1C − D) ∼ = π1 (P1C − (∪i Ci )) ∼ = π1 (P1C − D0 ). Remark 3. which is called the Hurwitz braid group on r strands. the composition of the homomorphism ρ0 : π1 (P1C − D0 ) → G corresponding to f 0 with the isomorphism (2) agrees with ρ.3.C is the unique topology in which the sets H(f. For instance. Ci ). up to an inner automorphism of G. Proposition 3. the action of the generators of this presentation on nir (G) are given by simple and explicit formulas.C as a complex manifold.3. Then ϕf is an analytic morphism.C as the set of isomorphism classes of G- covers f 0 : X 0 → P1C with the following properties.C on the fiber HD.G. see e.C . for each f the induced map H(f.G. We define the subset H(f. SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . This proves (i).C . Proposition 3. The fundamental group of Ur. Statement (ii) is a direct consequence of (i).G.C .G. we have the following decomposition into open and closed subsets: a Ψ−1 r (U(Ci )) = H(f. we have a rather explicit description of the Hurwitz space Hr.320 M. — By elementary topology.4. the space Hr. f where f runs over all G-covers with branch locus D. ROMAGNY & S. (ii) The topological space Hr.G.g.C has a unique structure of a complex manifold such that Ψr is biholomorphic.C be the map which assigns to a point s ∈ S the isomorphism class of the fiber of f : X → P1S over s. Moreover. Ci ) form a basis of open neighborhoods of the point corresponding to f . by a natural action of the fundamental group of Ur. First.G. second.C . [FV91]. as a covering of Ur. — Let S be a complex analytic space and f : X → P1S a tame G-cover over S with r branch points. has a well known presentation by generators and relations. the branch locus D0 of f 0 is contained in U(Ci ).G. Ci ) ⊂ Hr. WEWERS open neighborhoods of the point D ∈ Ur. up to isomorphism.G. So from a topological point of view.G.C is determined.C ∼ = nir (G). 3.C correspond to the orbits of the braid action on the set nir (G).2. the connected components of Hr.G. — We consider the set Hr.C is a coarse moduli space. Ci ) → U(Ci ) is a bijection. Let ϕf : S → Hr. Proof.

then we get a map g : Hr.G.1 in the context of analytic spaces. We claim that g is analytic.G (S) −→ Hom(An) (S. g is the unique map with this property.G (S) denote the set of isomorphism classes of G- covers of P1S with r branch points (as in §2. Using the fact that the projection P1S − D̃ → S is a topological fibration.C ). it remains to show that g is analytic.G. Algebraic construction In this section we prove a certain weak version of Theorem 2. Let f : X → P1 be a G-cover and s ∈ Hr. — The morphism of functors (3) identifies Hr. Therefore. smooth and of finite type over Z. Ci ) ⊂ Hr. Essentially we show that there is a scheme Hr. H0 ) a morphism of functors in S (from analytic spaces to sets). Since the branch divisor of the fibres of f vary analytically with s. It also follows immediately from the definition of the topology on Hr. By functoriality we have g̃ = g|S . If we evaluate this mor- phism on the analytic space S = {s} consisting of a single point.G.Z and the set of isomorphism classes of tame G-covers f : X → P1k SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 .C → H0 . The proposition shows that we have a natural morphism of functors (from analytic spaces to sets) (3) Hr.2 above. such that for any algebraically closed field k there is a functorial bijection between the set of k-rational points of Hr. it is easy to show that there exists a unique family of G-covers f˜ : X̃ → P1S over S with branch locus D̃ and such that f˜s = f .C that ϕf is continuous. let Hr.C with the coarse mod- uli space of the functor S 7→ Hr.C be one of the basic neighborhoods of s constructed in §3. (We leave to the reader the task of formulating the correct notion of ‘coarse moduli space’ in the context of analytic spaces.C denote the composition of the map ϕf with Ψr . — Let ψf : S → Ur.G. ψf is an analytic map.G.5. Hr. The morphism of functors G applied to the isomorphism class of f˜ yields an analytic map g̃ : S → H0 . — Let H0 be an analytic space and G(S) : Hr.3). Let S := H(f.G.G (S) −→ Hom(An) (S.G (S). Proof.Z . Once this claim is proved. we deduce that ϕf is analytic. for s ∈ S the point ψf (s) ∈ Ur. For an analytic space S.C corresponds to the branch divisor of the fiber of f over the point s.) Theorem 3.G.G. it is clear that the composition of the morphism (3) with the morphism induced by g is equal to G (compare with the diagram of Theorem 2. This shows that g is analytic and finishes the proof of the theorem. Since Ψr is a local isomorphism of complex manifolds. 4. Let D̃ ⊂ P1S be the ∼ relative divisor corresponding to the isomorphism S → U(Ci ). By definition.1. It yields an analog of Theorem 2.C the corresponding point.1 (i)). Moreover. HURWITZ SPACES 321 Proof.

322 M.Z corresponding to a divisor D ⊂ P1S is called the classifying map of D. .Z denote the open subset of PrZ defined by the condition ∆(c0 : . SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 .Z of D. In other words. . WEWERS with r branch points.Z be the ‘universal’ smooth divisor of degree r. We extend σ to an auto- morphism of the rational function field k(t) by prescribing that σ(t) = t. defined over k. 4. — For r ≥ 1. This gives a one-to-one correspondence between morphisms S → Ur. The twist of f by σ is the G-cover f σ : X σ → P1k occurring in the following commutative diagram with Cartesian squares: X σ −−−−→ X    fσy f y σ̃ P1k −−−−→ P1k The field of moduli of f is the subfield km ⊂ k of elements of k fixed by the group of automorphisms ∼ Af = { σ : k → k | f σ ∼ = f }. The topological arguments used in the last section are replaced by the use of étale morphism. In this subsection we associate to f two subfields of k.Z and divisors D ⊂ P1S such that the projection D → S is finite and étale. They depend only on the isomorphism class of f as a G-cover. Throughout this section. k0 is the smallest field of definition of the divisor D ⊂ P1 . For basic facts about étale morphisms. : cr ) := discr(c0 T r + · · · + cn ) 6= 0. ∼ Definition 4.2. (This makes Ur. given by the equation c0 T r + · · · + cn = 0. The proof we give is somewhat similar to the proof of Theorem 3. To any morphism of schemes ψ : S → Ur. σ ∼ ∼ Note that the condition f = f is equivalent to the condition that σ : k(t) → k(t) extends to an automorphism of the function field L := k(X) of X which commutes with the action of G. denoted by k0 and km . see the first chapter of [G+ 71] or of [Mil80]. The branch locus field of f is the residue field k0 of the image of the classifying map Spec k → Ur. The configuration space Ur. Let Duniv ⊂ P1 ×Z Ur.) The morphism ψ : S → Ur. — Let k be an algebraically closed field and f : X → P1k a G-cover. — Let σ : k → k be a field automorphism. The field of moduli of a G-cover.5. — Let D ⊂ P1k be the branch locus of f . in the sense that it relies heavily on the nice deformation theory of tamely ramified covers. in the standard way).Z we associate the divisor Dψ := Duniv ×ψ S ⊂ P1S . This suffices for many applications.2. defined over k. 4. let Ur. We denote by σ̃ the corresponding automorphism of P1k (where we regard k(t) as the function field of P1k .1. of degree r.Z . Definition 4.Z a fine moduli space. ROMAGNY & S.1. we fix an integer r ≥ 3 and a finite group G.

Then f has a field of definition k 0 ⊂ k which is a finite separable extension of the branch locus field k0 . see [G+ 71].3 is a direct consequence. of which Theorem 4. A well known application of this theorem is the ‘obvious direction’ of Belyi’s theo- rem: if X is a smooth projective curve over C and f : X → P1 is a rational function with only three branch points. Algebraic deformation theory. — Let k be an algebraically closed field and f : X → P1k a tame G-cover defined over k. — Let f : X → P1k be a G-cover. Proposition 4.3 in the case where k has characteristic 0. In particular.1. Usually we will identify f and fR ⊗ k. see e. HURWITZ SPACES 323 By construction. the field of moduli of f is a finite separable extension of k0 .4. or [K0̈4]. ZG ). Let f : X → P1k be a G-cover defined over k. and let R be an object of Ck . Moreover. — Let k be an algebraically closed field.3. In [G+ 71].3.1. For a different proof of Theorem 4. [Völ96]. The 0 corresponding fact for smooth projective schemes is proved in [G+ 71]. Note that the tameness assumption in Theorem 4. An isomorphism between two deformations fR and fR0 is an isomorphism of G-covers over R which induces the identity on f . as the referee pointed out.3 is necessary.cit. In particular. We will prove Theorem 4. The proof is part of our algebraic construction of the Hurwitz space Hr. in particular for applications to the regular inverse Galois problem. 4. We denote by Ck the category of Noetherian complete local rings with residue field k. Theorem 4. km is a field of definition. Then f has a unique model over km . we have k0 ⊂ km ⊂ k. see §3. if k 0 ⊂ k is a field of definition of f then km ⊂ k 0 .3 in §4. Exposé XIII.g.8 and Théorème IX. We have the following important finiteness result. In general. Re- marque X.1. Theorem is equivalent to the assertion that the tame fundamental group π1t (P1ksep − D) does not change under base change with the extension k/k0sep. the tame fundamental group of an affine curve over an algebraically closed field is studied.G . The following fact is very useful. with field of moduli km ⊂ k. §7.4 below. the obstruction for km to be a field of definition is represented by an element of the Galois cohomology group H 2 (km . Homomorphisms between objects of Ck are local ring homomorphisms which induce the identity on k. where ZG denotes the center of G. see Corollaire X. However. See [DD97]. A deformation of f over R is a G-cover fR : XR → P1R defined over the ring R together with an isomorphism of G-covers between f and the special fiber fR ⊗ k. then X can be defined over a number field. there seems to be no statement in loc. Suppose that the group G has trivial center. Both these proofs use the Riemann Existence Theorem. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 .

We may hence consider the ti as elements of k. Then there ex- ists a deformation fR of f with branch points t̃1 . It is our main tool for the proof of the Theorems 4. . (ii) Suppose that f1 and f2 have the same branch locus D ⊂ P1S . .11 (just as the corresponding topological fact was the main tool for the proof of Theorem 3. Any isomorphism λK : f1 ×S Spec K → ∼ f2 ×S Spec K extends to a unique isomorphism λ : f1 → f2 . Suppose that s : Spec k → S has image in W . where I  R is an ideal. . If there exists a geometric point s : Spec k → S such that λs = λ0s . we can think of fi ×S Spec R̂ as two deformations of the same G-cover over k.s → f2. and f1 : X1 → P1S . t̃r ∈ R be elements which lift t1 . . see [G+ 71] and §5 below.5. ∼ (i) Let λ. normal and integral domain. It is unique up to unique isomorphism. . Here is a useful lemma which follows from the uniqueness statement in Proposition 4. tr ∈ k. Since λs = λ0s . The uniqueness statement in Proposition 4. Since X1 and X2 are of finite presentation over R. Proposition 4. such that λ̂ descends to an isomorphism ∼ λ : f1 ×S S 0 → f2 ×S S 0 over S 0 = Spec R0 . The next proposition is the algebraic version of the fact that one can deform a cover in a unique way by moving its branch points. Proposition 4. WEWERS Let t1 . . — Assume that the cover f is tamely ramified. S = Spec R. But since R is contained in R̂. By Proposition 4. ROMAGNY & S. Therefore. . then λ = λ0 .5 implies that λ ×S Spec R̂ = λ0 ×S Spec R̂. Let s0 : Spec k → S 0 be the point corresponding to the composition of the inclusion R0 ⊂ R̂ and the natural map R̂ → k.s → f2. . tr denote the branch points of f .324 M. — Let λ. . Lemma 4. .s an isomorphism between the fibres of f1 and f2 over s. ∼ (iii) Let K denote the fraction field of R. . there exists a subring R0 ⊂ R̂.5. .6. and let t̃1 . then λ ×S Spec R̂ and λ0 ×S Spec R̂ are isomorphisms of these two deformations. this shows that I = 0 and W = S and proves (i). Let s : Spec k → S ∼ be a geometric point and λs : f1. λ0 : f1 → f2 be two isomorphisms of G-covers. f2 : X2 → P1S two tame G-covers over S. It is easy to see that W is a closed subset of V . W = Spec R/I.5 is a special case of the deformation theory of tame covers. Let R̂ denote the strict completion of R at s. . . ∼ the isomorphism λs extends to an isomorphism λ̂ : f1 ×S Spec R̂ → f2 ×S Spec R̂. .5). SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . which is a finitely generated R-algebra. Let R̂ denote the strict completion of R at s.5 and the assumption on the branch locus. and let W ⊂ S denote the locus of points s : Spec k → S such that λs = λ0s . Proof. Then there exists an étale neighborhood S 0 → S of the point ∼ s and an isomorphism λ : f1 ×S S 0 → f2 ×S S 0 which extends λs . . Suppose now that f1 and f2 have the same branch locus and that there exists a ∼ point s : Spec k → S and an isomorphism λs : f1. — Let R be a Noetherian.s . λ0 be as in (i). t̃r .3 and 4. It is no restriction to assume that f is unramified over infinity. Let R be an object of Ck .

9. λ) of f . see §4. Remark 4. f2 ). HURWITZ SPACES 325 Since S 0 is of finite type over S and R0 ⊂ R̂. A morphism between two versal deformations (f˜i . This scheme is finite and étale over the closed subscheme of S defined by the condition that f1 and f2 have the same branch locus. the same reasoning as in the proof of Lemma 4. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 .10. defined over an algebraically closed field k. as defined at the beginning of this subsection. We write h̃ : f˜1 → f˜2 to denote this morphism. Proposition 4. Ex.1. Definition 4. where – f˜ : X̃ → P1 is a versal family of G-covers over a scheme S.10. Replacing S 0 by an open subset containing the image of s0 . λ). III. f˜1 and f˜2 . — With a little extra work. So a ‘versal algebraic deformation’ is something quite different from a ‘deformation’. Let S be an arbitrary scheme and f1 . — Let k be an algebraically closed field and f : X → P1k a tame G- cover over k with r branch point. λi ) defined over schemes Si . Definition 4. Let ψ : S → Ur. together with an isomorphism h̃ : f˜1 ∼ = f˜2 ×S2 S1 of G-covers over S1 which identifies λ1 with the pullback of λ2 . If ψ is étale then f is called a versal family of G-covers over S. f˜3 . 2. The schemes X1 and X2 are smooth over the normal scheme S and hence normal.4. — Let S be a connected scheme and f : X → P1S a tame G-cover with r branch points over S.7. Then the functor which associates to an S-scheme S 0 the set of isomorphisms from f1 ×S S 0 to f2 ×S S 0 is representable by a scheme IsoS (f1 . i = 1. together with morphisms f˜3 → f˜1 and f˜3 → f˜2 .g.8. f2 two tame G-covers over S. and ∼ – λ : f → f˜s is an isomorphism of G-covers between f and the pullback of f˜ via s. s. we may assume that S 0 → S is étale.6.Z be the classifying map of the branch locus of f . S – s : Spec k → S is a k-rational point. This proves (ii). Xi is the normalization of P1S in the function field of Xi ×S Spec K. s. A versal algebraic deformation of f is a triple (f˜. — Let f : X → P1k be a tame G-cover with r branch points. si .6 yields the following statement. The lemma is proved. and that the residue field of this point is never equal to k. (ii) Given two versal algebraic deformations of f . (i) There exists a versal algebraic deformation (f˜. Therefore. We would like to point out that the image of the k-rational point s is in general not a closed point of the scheme S. there exists a third one. Note that this statement immediately implies Lemma 4. [Har77]. the map S 0 → S is étale in a neighborhood of s0 . is a morphism h : S1 → S2 such that h(s1 ) = s2 . see e. It ∼ follows immediately that any isomorphism λK : f1 ×S Spec K → f2 ×S Spec K extends ∼ to a unique isomorphism λ : f1 → f2 .

when k is the algebraic closure of its prime field (which is either Q or Fp for a prime p). Proposition 5. Since R is of finite type over Z. Therefore. [Wew99]. the locus of points on S where the fiber of f˜ is a tame G-cover is open in S.326 M.5 shows that fˆ is the universal deformation of f . si . after shrinking S we may assume that ψ : S → Ur. 2. — We start with Part (ii) of the proposition. By standard arguments.Z be the classifying map of the branch locus of f˜. As above. Write ft for the pullback of fR via t. Proposition I. t̃r .5.6 (ii). Then (f˜. and let `0 ⊂ ` denote the branch locus field of ft . . we set R̂ := W (k)[[s1 . the isomorphism λ2 ◦λ−1 1 : f1 ⊗k → f2 ⊗k extends to an isomorphism f˜1 × S3 ∼ = f˜2 × S3 . we may assume that f is unramified over infinity.3. λi ). then we set W (k) := k. The projections h1 : S3 → S1 and h2 : S3 → S2 are étale and we have h1 (s3 ) = s1 and h2 (s3 ) = s2 . .g. Part (ii) of the proposition follows immediately. there exists a geometric point t : Spec ` → Spec R. . To prove Part (i). the ring of formal power series over W (k) in r variables. where ` is the algebraic closure of its prime field. By the existence part of Proposition 4. Lift the elements ti ∈ k to elements of W (k) with the same name. Since ψ is of finite type. . be two versal algebraic deformations of f .2. Then ` = `sep 0 . This is the case. under the assumption k = k0sep . for instance. In any case. after restricting S to an open subset containing the point s. i = 1. . we may assume that f˜ is a tame G-cover over S. After replacing S3 by ˜ ∼ ˜ a sufficiently small étale neighborhood of s3 . by Lemma 4. if k is of characteristic 0. there exists a subring R ⊂ R̂ which is of finite type over Z and such that fˆ descends to a finite map f˜ : X̃ → P1S between flat projective curves over S = Spec R. then we write W (k) to denote the ring of Witt vectors over k. We denote this canonical isomorphism by λ. where k0 ⊂ k is the branch locus field of f (see §4. sr ]]. This proves (i). ROMAGNY & S.8). The fiber fs of f˜ over s is canonically isomorphic to f .Z is étale everywhere. . there exists a unique deformation of f to a G-cover fˆ : X̂ → P1R̂ over R̂ with branch points t̃1 . Let S3 be the connected component of S1 ×Ur. . . Set t̃i := ti + si ∈ R̂. Therefore. The map ψ induces an isomorphism between the strict completions of the local rings at s and ψ(s). we note that there exists a subring R ⊂ k which is of finite type over Z such that f descends to a tame G- cover fR over Spec R. Let ψ : S → Ur. let us first assume that k = k0sep . Let s : Spec k → S be the point obtained by composing the inclusion R .→ R̂ with the canonical map R̂ → k. . and hence we may apply to ft the case of the proposition which we have SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 .2). Without loss of generality. tr of f as elements of k. WEWERS Proof. (The uniqueness part of Proposition 4. Let (f˜i .3. We now give the proof in the general case. . If k has characteristic p > 0. it follows that ψ is étale in a neighborhood of s (see e.Z S2 which contains the image of s3 := (s1 . s.) Since projective curves are of finite presentation. . s2 ). . because both these rings are equal to R̂ (here we use the assumption k = k0sep !). λ) is a versal algebraic deformation of f .(v) and [Mil80]. Hence we may regard the branch points t1 .

Let (f˜. Let (f˜.Z . s0 ) −−−−→ (Spec R.10.3 from Proposition 4.3). λ) be a versal algebraic deformation of f .3. s0 ) be an étale neighborhood of the pointed scheme (S ×Ur. s) −−−−→ (Ur. It follows that the left vertical arrow is also unramified. λ) over S be the resulting versal algebraic deformation of ft . Let (S 0 .3 follows. we obtain an isomorphism f = (fR × S 0 )s00 ∼ = (f˜ × S 0 )s00 = f˜s000 . The horizontal arrows and the right vertical arrow are unramified morphisms. By the commutativity of the above diagram. Specializing the isomorphism (4) at s00 . 4.Z . We may therefore regard f˜ as a versal algebraic deformation of f . we can lift the tautological geometric point Spec k → Spec R to a geometric point s00 : Spec k → S 0 .Z be the (étale) classifying map of the branch locus of fS . t)) (the map S → Ur. s.4. Proof of Theorem 4. Moreover. 2 SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . Let k 0 be the residue field of the image of s : Spec k → S. Therefore.6 (ii) we may assume.Z used in the definition of the fiber product is the classifying map of the branch locus of f˜). (s. We obtain the following commutative diagram: Spec k 0 −−−−→ S    ψ y y Spec k0 −−−−→ Ur. s. The image of the composition of s : Spec k → S with ψ is a point on Ur.10. where s000 : Spec k → S is the composition of s00 with S 0 → S. This completes the proof of Proposition 4. after shrinking the neighborhood (S 0 . their fibers at the point s0 are both isomorphic to ft . By definition. Let ψ : S → Ur. s0 ). The map S 0 → Spec R being étale. by Lemma 4. by definition. the branch locus field k0 of f . t)     y y (S. HURWITZ SPACES 327 already proved.Z Spec R. This means that k 0 /k0 is a finite separable extension (see [Har77]. — We will now derive Theorem 4.10. they have the same branch locus. that the isomorphism of the fibers extends to an isomorphism (4) f˜ ×S S 0 ∼ = fR ×SpecR S 0 over S 0 . We obtain a commutative diagram of pointed schemes (S 0 . Consider the two tame G-covers f˜×S S 0 and fR ×SpecR S 0 .Z whose residue field is. t0 ) in which the horizontal arrows are étale. k 0 is a field of definition for the G-cover f . Exercise III. Theorem 4.

Therefore. Choose an embedding K0 . Kµ is a finite extension of K0 . (ii) The point π([f ]k ) : Spec k → Ur. the following holds.G. We identify K0 with the rational function field Q(c̃1 .Z of finite type over Z.Z . in some sense. — There exists a scheme H = Hr.4.11.G.Z in Kµ . we obtain: Corollary 4. . By Theorem 4.Z .Z is the classifying map of the branch locus D ⊂ P1k of f . defined over an algebraically ∼ closed field k. c̃r ) in such a way that the generic point Spec K0 → Ur.328 M.1) that M is a finite set.12.1. ROMAGNY & S.5. then for every field k the set of k-rational points on Hr. Recall that.→ C and let (fµ : Xµ → P1C )µ∈M be a system of representatives of the orbits of the action of Aut(C/K0 ) on the set of isomorphism classes of G-covers over C with branch locus Dgen ⊂ P1C . by definition. an étale morphism π : H → Ur. Then we have [f σ ]k = [f ]σk . Combining Theorem 4.G. Furthermore. for each algebraically closed field k.C ∼ = H ⊗Z C. . we let Kµ denote the field of moduli of the G-cover fµ .Z corresponds to the ‘generic’ divisor Dgen ⊂ P1K0 with equation tr + c̃1 tr−1 + · · · + c̃r = 0.11) In the first step of the proof we define a scheme H0 which is. Theorem 4. Let K0 denote the function field of Ur. . — (of Theorem 4. WEWERS 4. (iii) For k = C. SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . (i) Let f be a tame G-cover f with r branch points. — Here is the main result of this section. We let Hµ0 denote the normalization of Ur.Z is in natural bijection with the set of isomorphism classes of G-covers with r branch points defined over k. a bijection f 7−→ [f ]k between (a) the set of isomorphism classes of tame G-covers f : X → P1k defined over k with r branch points and (b) the set of k-rational points Spec k → H. For each µ ∈ M .Z . the bijection f 7→ [f ]k gives rise to an isomorphism of complex manifolds Hr. The algebraic Hurwitz space Hr. .3. a good candidate for the Hurwitz scheme H. — If the group G has trivial center.11 with Proposition 4. This theorem is a special case of Theorem 2.G. Proof. It follows from the Riemann’s Existence Theorem (Theorem §3. Hµ0 is a normal connected scheme with function field Kµ and that there is a commutative diagram Spec Kµ −−−−→ Hµ0    π 0 y y µ Spec K0 −−−−→ Ur. the field of moduli of f is equal to the residue field of the point [f ]k . Let σ : k → k be a field isomorphism.Z and.

Let K be the function field of S.Z is regular and in particular normal. for all σ ∈ Aut(k) we have [f ]σk = [f σ ]k . We define the k-rational point [f ]k : Spec k → H0 as the composition of the point s with ϕ. [Har77]. Corollaire I. Using the normality of S. Exercise II. — (i) The chart ϕ : S → H0 is étale.Z induces an embedding K0 . for some µ ∈ M . 2.8) implies that ψ : S → Ur.→ C. Proof.Z . be two versal algebraic deformations of f and ϕi : Si → H0 the associated charts.) Let k be an algebraically closed field and f : X → P1k a tame G-cover with r branch points over k. the same holds for S (see [G+ 71]. We consider ϕ as a map S → H0 and call it the chart associated to the versal family f˜.→ K. (iii) The point [f ]k defined above depends only on the isomorphism class of the G- cover f .10 (i)) and ϕ : S → H0 the associated chart. The map ψ : S → Ur. It follows that K ⊂ C is a field of definition for fµ . the map ϕi is independent of the choice of the embedding of the function field of Si into C. resulting in a dominant map ϕ : S → Hµ0 which induces the inclusion Kµ ⊂ K. the universal property of normalization (see e. Proposition 4. the field of moduli of fµ . s. The pullback f˜ ×S Spec C is a G-cover over C with branch locus Dgen ⊂ P1C .g.→ C fixed at the beginning of this subsection.3.2). — Statement (i) follows from the fact that ψ = π 0 ◦ ϕ is étale and from Lemma 4.Z factors through the map πµ0 : Hµ0 → Ur. then f∼= f 0.14 below. K contains the field Kµ . λi ).Z the map whose restriction to Hµ0 is equal to πµ0 .Z of the branch locus of f˜ is étale. λ) be a versal algebraic deformation of f (which exists by Proposition 4. h : S1 → S2 and ϕi be as in (ii). By definition. Choose an embedding K .9. In particular. We may therefore choose the embedding K ⊂ C in such a way that f˜ ×S Spec C is isomorphic to the G-cover fµ . Then ϕ2 ◦ h = ϕ1 . Let f˜ : X̃ → P1S be a versal family of G-covers. (The next proposition shows that ϕ does not depend on the choice of the embedding K . si . i = 1.13. HURWITZ SPACES 329 where πµ0 is a finite morphism of schemes. the classifying map ψ : S → Ur. Let h̃ : f˜1 → f˜2 be a morphism of algebraic deformations and h : S1 → S2 the underlying morphism of the base schemes.→ C which extends the embedding K0 . (iv) If f 0 is another tame G-cover over k with r branch points and [f ] = [f 0 ]. Recall that the scheme Hµ0 ⊂ H0 was defined as the normalization of Ur. Let h̃ : f˜1 → f˜2 . Let ψi : Si → Ur. Let (f˜. Since Ur. We define the scheme a H0 := Hµ0 µ∈M as the disjoint union of the Hµ0 and denote by π 0 : H0 → Ur. (ii) Let (f˜i . Moreover.Z in the field extension Kµ /K0 . Therefore. defined over a scheme S.Z SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . (v) The image of the map f 7→ [f ]k is an open subscheme of H0 .

See also Remark 4. Let σ : C → C be an automorphism of C whose restriction to K2 is equal to the inclusion K2 . WEWERS be the classifying map of the branch locus of f˜i . for a unique µi ∈ M . is contained in Ki . Let Ki denote the function field of Si . We conclude that every point in the image of ϕ is in the image of the map f 7→ [f ]k . Statement (iii) follows easily from (ii) and Proposition 4.6 (iii) that f˜ ×S S 00 and f˜0 ×S 0 S 00 are isomorphic. and we have to show that f ∼ = f 0 . We assume that ϕ(s) = ϕ0 (s0 ). if two versal families over the same scheme S have the same chart. We define H := Hr. The existence of the isomorphism h̃ shows that ψ2 ◦ h = ψ1 . The map ϕi : Si → Hµ0 i is characterized by the two properties that πµ0 i ◦ ϕi = ψi and that it induces the inclusion Kµi ⊂ Ki on ∼ the function fields. So Part (i) of Theorem 4.→ C and was chosen such that f˜i ⊗Si C is isomorphic to the cover fµi .) Let s0 : Spec k → S be any point. Therefore. λ0 ) of f 0 and let ϕ0 : S 0 → H0 be the associated chart. By Proposition 4. ROMAGNY & S. then there exists a finite étale cover S 0 → S over which they become isomorphic. Part (ii) is obvious. the field of moduli of fµi . But ϕ is an open morphism because it is étale by (i). after replacing S 00 by a finite cover.Z .→ C. h(s00 ) = s and h0 (s00 ) = s0 (e. SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 .g. Therefore. This proves (iv).10 (ii).Z . Specializing this isomorphism at the point s00 .Z as the union of the images of all charts ϕ : S → H0 . Choose a versal algebraic deformation (f˜0 . Together with the equality ψ2 ◦ h = ψ1 . and the map f 7→ [f ]k is a bijection between Hr. as in the proof of Proposition 4.10 (ii)). [fs0 ]k = ϕ(s0 ). applied to the maps ϕ : S → H and π : H → Ur. this is an open subscheme of H0 . It follows now from Lemma 4. Then the morphism h̃ : f˜1 → f˜2 induces an isomorphism ∼ f˜1 ⊗S1 C → (f˜2 ⊗S2 C)σ . s0 . s0 . Kµi .13. The following lemma.G (k) and the set of k-rational points of H. It follows now from the definition of the field of moduli that the restriction of σ to Kµ2 is the identity Kµ2 = Kµ1 . (The preceeding argument can be summarized by saying that. we get an isomorphism ∼ f → f 0 .→ K1 induced by the map h. Recall that the definition of the chart ϕi depended on the choice of an embedding Ki .330 M. shows that π and all charts ϕ are étale. then (f˜. By construction. let f 0 : X 0 → P1k be another tame G-cover defined over k. Id) is a versal deformation of fs0 with chart ϕ.7. we may assume that the generic fibres are isomorphic. Statement (v) follows. Set π := π 0 |H : H → Ur. This finishes the proof of the proposition. To prove (iv).11 is proved. Let S 00 be a connected normal scheme. this implies the desired equality ϕ2 ◦ h = ϕ1 and proves (ii). In particular. the generic fibres of the G-covers f˜ ×S S 00 and f˜0 ×S 0 S 00 have the same field of moduli. This embedding extends the fixed embedding K0 . s : Spec k → S a k-rational point and h : S 00 → S and 00 00 h : S 00 → S 0 quasi-finite and dominant maps such that ϕ ◦ h = ϕ0 ◦ h0 .G.

Z ⊗ Z[1/n] is still finite.11.Z ⊗ Fp is not very well under- stood. Part (i) of Theorem 4. Hence g|f (X) is unramified. a few cases have been successfully studied. HURWITZ SPACES 331 Lemma 4. Then f and g|f (X) are étale. But t ◦ ϕan is obviously the classifying map of the analytification of the G-cover f˜ and is analytic by Proposition 3. (ii) f and g are dominant. Using again (i).20. the induced map ϕan : S(C) → H(C) of analytic spaces is a local isomorphism (see [G+ 71]. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 .G. (ii) Let n be the order of G. it suffices to show that for all charts ϕ the composition t ◦ ϕan is analytic. (ii) and [Mil80]. Furthermore. This concludes the proof of Theorem 4. the reduction Hr.3.Z ⊗ Q is finite and hence Hr. Xz := X ×Z k(z) ` is of the form x0 Spec k(x0 ). In particular. Proposition XII.20. where x0 runs over (g ◦ f )−1 (z) and k(x0 )/k(z) are all finite separable field extensions.11 shows that the morphism π ⊗ Q : Hr. since f is étale the induced morphism fz : Xz → Yz := Y ×Z k(z) is étale as well. Therefore. (ii) and [Mil80]. Let x ∈ X and set y := f (x). we conclude that g|f (X) is étale. See [Ful69] and [Wew98].G. The last two assertions together show ` that Yz ∩ f (X) is of the form y0 Spec k(y 0 ). Using more or less standard arguments (good re- duction and the valuation criterion of properness) one can conclude from (i) that π ⊗ Z[1/n] : Hr.15.Z ⊗ F̄p are in natural bijection with the connected components of Hr.G. — Let f : X → Y and g : Y → Z be morphisms of schemes.14.Z ⊗ Z[1/n] → Ur.G. We only have to show that t is an analytic map. z := g(y).G.11. It remains to prove Part (iii) of Theorem 4. and (iii) g ◦ f is étale. Remark 4. Theorem I. Hence f is unramified as well. Using (i).4.11 in the case k = C and the Riemann Existence Theorem show that we have a bijection ∼ t : H(C) → Hr.Z has good reduction at all primes p not dividing n.C . Hr. where y 0 runs over g −1 (z) ∩ f (X) and k(y 0 )/k(z) are all finite separable field extensions.G. we conclude that f is étale. Assume that the following holds.3). Proof. Theorem I. Since g ◦ f is étale.g.C .1 and Remarque XII. see e. — The map g ◦ f is unramified. — (i) Part (iii) of Theorem 4. (i) Y and Z are normal. However.Z ⊗ Q = H0 ⊗ Q. [BW04] and [Rom].G.3.G. Moreover. (iii) For primes p dividing n. Since ϕ is étale.Z ⊗ Q → Ur.3.3. the con- nected components of Hr. Let f˜ : X̃ → P1S be a versal family of G-covers and ϕ : S → H the associated chart. by (iii).

to the case of Hurwitz moduli spaces. (iii) f factors through an isomorphism Y /G ' X. — It is possible to adapt the construction of Mg as a GIT quotient by Gieseker and Mumford [Gie82]. The branch locus map Ψ : Hr. In the case of smooth curves. for any g ∈ G with g(y) = y. WEWERS 5. it is often easier to find rational points on the boundary. in The moduli space Hr.→ AutX (Y ) is an injective group homomorphism such that for any node y ∈ Y . However. in The moduli space for admissible G-covers with r branch points will be called Hr.1. More applications will be given in the other lectures of the conference. whose objects are called ad- in missible G-covers. The resulting projective schemes are helpful in a number of questions : for example. This was worked out by Bertin. Let k be an algebraically closed field of characteristic zero. Admissible covers In the tame case.G . 5. with values in the moduli space of genus 0 stable marked curves of Knudsen-Mumford. 5. — For a double point on a curve. in We construct here a compactification denoted Hr. We denote the latter by U r (but be careful : this is not exactly the same one as in [Wew98]). ROMAGNY & S. or by the use of theorems of representability for tamely ramified stacks. The branch divisor is defined as the image by f of the (ramification) divisor defined by the sheaf of ideals I := f ∗ ωX ⊗ ωY−1 . Definitions. Instead we will present two other constructions of the moduli space : either by Geometric Invariant Theory. and we now sketch the SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . Also as before. The definition of an isomorphism of admissible G-covers is the same as in the smooth case. it is possible to compactify the Hurwitz schemes by adjoining coverings of stable curves of a particularly nice type. using a normalization of U r in some field extension. An admissible G-cover of a curve of genus 0 is a pair (f. By condition (ii) the support of the branch divisor of an admissible G-cover is included in the smooth locus of X.1. so we get into trouble when we want to prove that the variety we obtain is the desired moduli space. we could define it like in Section 4. α) where (i) f : Y → X is a cover of stable curves with X of genus 0. this is the same divisor as in section 1. — Let G be a finite group. α(g) respects the branches at y and acts on them by characters that are inverse to each other.2. the tangent space at the point splits canonically into two one-dimensional subspaces which we call the branches.332 M. the map Ψ is not étale any more on the compactification.G being a posteriori normal. Definition 5. (ii) α : G .G → Ur extends to a map on this moduli space. The Geometric Invariant Theory construction.G . if the degree of the branch divisor is constant and equal to r we say that f has r branch points. where ω? denotes dualizing sheaves.

Furthermore.2. O(ν)) → H 0 (X. 88. the fibres of Z|T → T are endowed with an action of G. — There exists ν such that for any fiber of Z → H which is smooth and nondegenerate (i.1.e. — T0 //PGLN +1 is a coarse moduli space for Hr. Let Z → H be the universal curve.0. Let H ss be the open subset of H of points h such that the ν-th Hilbert point of Zh is GIT-semi-stable. We keep the data g. Theorem 5. 1. th. In the sequel ν is fixed like in the theorem. For clarity. 1. We recall the notion of the Hilbert points of a curve X ⊂ PN in projective space over a field k. Theorem 5. N = (2m − 1)(g − 1) − 1 and the Hilbert polynomial P (x) = (2mx − 1)(g − 1). in Theorem 5. included in no hyperplane). hence so is the fixed point subscheme T := U G . Observe that PGLN +1 acts naturally on P(∧H 0 (PN . Lν ). fix an injection G ⊂ PGLN +1 (this is not a restriction. From the theorems of Serre it follows that there is an ν0 such that : for all ν ≥ ν0 the Euler characteristic P χ(ν) = i (−1)i hi (X. Let H be the Hilbert scheme parameterizing closed subschemes of PN with Hilbert polynomial P .0. G as above. p. Lν ) → 0 Taking exterior powers yields another surjection χ(ν) χ(ν) ∧ H 0 (PN . Among the irreducible components of T for which the fiber Zt over the generic point is a smooth curve. O(ν))). This is the conjunction of [Gie82]. 26. HURWITZ SPACES 333 in steps of his proof. 2. Let L denote the restriction of OPN (1) to X. The scheme U is smooth (by deformation theory). Now define U ⊂ H ss by the two conditions ”Zh is connected” and ”Zh ⊂ PN is the m-canonical embedding”. since we are interested in G-curves and their canonical embeddings).3. p.) By construction. so there is a notion of GIT-stability for this action. in the case of Hr. 35 and prop. O(ν))). for each of the three main steps below we indicate the result which is the analog in the construction of Mg in [Gie82].0. O(ν)) → ∧ H 0 (X. it follows from the fact that the characteristics do not divide the order of G.G . Lν ) is just equal to h0 (X.4. p. Finally. Now fix m ≥ 10. r. — U is closed in H ss .0. (This is a simple calculation . let T0 ⊂ T be the component for which the genus of Zt /G is zero. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . and the number of branch points of Zt → Zt /G equal to r.0. This result is essentially [Gie82]. Lν ) ' k This defines the ν-th Hilbert point of X as a point in the projective space P(∧H 0 (PN . the fibres of Z|U → U are stable curves in the sense of Deligne-Mumford. th.G . and we have a surjection H 0 (PN . the ν-th Hilbert point of Zh is GIT-stable for the action of PGLN +1 .

it is equal to its moduli space). in the sequel of this section. Let R be a Noetherian complete local ring with separably closed residue field k. for varying S : in – the objects in the category Hr.3.G . Assume that M is a stack with respect to the fpqc topology. For example. p. Thus the presence of morphisms is the main difference between moduli spaces and moduli stacks. 93 in the equivariant case. WEWERS This is the analog of [Gie82]. – the morphisms between two given families are the G-equivariant isomorphisms of covers over S. the fact that the diagonal is finite is equivalent to the finiteness of the schemes of automorphisms of coverings.G (S). Roughly.0. — Assume M → S is as above. then it is algebraic and tamely ramified along D. the interested reader is advised to look at e. 5. and has finite diagonal. marked with a divisor D ⊂ X of degree r (we will SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . Let M be a stack over S. Thus.3 of [Wew98].G . 2. The construction via algebraic stacks. the reader who does not know about stacks should feel comfortable enough.g. in In our main case of interest the category is denoted by Hr. Showing this property is essentially a question of deformation theory. — This construction uses general arguments based on extensions of the theory of Grothendieck of representation for un- ramified functors. if we want to prove that the points of T0 //PGLN +1 are exactly the G-covers as we defined them in 5. and M = Hr.3 and remark 2. §4 or the Appendix of [Vis89]. ROMAGNY & S. The proof of this is theorem 1. whose isomorphism classes we want to classify. This is also necessary at the end. The utility of stacks is that very often. they are ”close enough” to a scheme so that we can really do geometry in the same way as we usually do with schemes. We can notice that some facts from deformation theory are needed in the course of the proof. Let X be a stable curve over R. in order to show that U is smooth.5. A particular case is when the stack is representable by a scheme (i. a stack is a category. For more details. [DM69].G . It involves algebraic stacks which are somehow more sophisticated objects. However. e. The necessary results from deformation theory are presented in the next subsection.1.G (S) are the families of admissible covers with r branch points over S. In the case where S = Ur with in D = Ur − Ur .g. Theorem 5. well-known by [DM69]. we only have to check formal tame ramification. If M is formally tamely ramified along D (and formally étale over S − D). Let S be a smooth Deligne-Mumford stack with a normal crossings divisor D. which means essentially that the category considered is equivalent to a category with unique isomorphisms.334 M.1.3. th.2. It is determined by in the categories of families over S denoted by Hr. if he keeps in mind the following ideas.e. these assumptions are verified by standard arguments. locally of finite presentation. for the in application to M = Hr.

then the isomorphism between them is unique. The computations are similar in spirit to the computation of the Picard group of the moduli of elliptic curves (see Mumford [Mum65]). — Arsie and Vistoli describe stacks of cyclic covers of projective space Pn as quotient SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . denoted PicG (X). In the case where M is a quotient stack [X/G]. satisfying ui 7→ pni i . we can choose local étale coordinates p̄i . Theorem 5. vi 7→ qini and lifting p̄i . We recall that given a Deligne-Mumford algebraic stack M. For each double point xi ∈ X in the special fiber. and T ({ti }) to be the set of families {τi } such that τi ∈ R and τini = ti . g + 1 after Arsie-Vistoli.G is formally tamely ramified along the divisor of singular curves in Ur . We chose to present Picard groups because some recent results give nice examples. The operation is induced by the tensor product of invertible sheaves. qi at each point yi . we have τ̄ini = t̄i . HURWITZ SPACES 335 be interested only in the case where X has geometric genus 0). e.yi is given eX0 .1. Now let f0 : Y0 → X0 be an admissible G-cover. Hr. By the definition (5. Hyperelliptic curves in characteristic 6= 2.xi such that ti := ui vi ∈ R. As we said above there is a map Def(f0 ) → T ({ti }). [Wew99] or [Moc95]. — The natural map Def(f0 ) → T ({ti }) is a bijection. q̄i . since it is known to be the only case where the moduli space of the corresponding wild covers is smooth [BM00]. In this respect the case p = 2 is however quite exceptional.5. Its coarse moduli space ([KM97]) is Hr.xi → O ni ni by ūi 7→ p̄i . the Picard group is just the group of isomorphism classes of G-linearized invertible sheaves on X.1(ii)). Thus for τi := pi qi we have τini = ti . This shows that in Hr. v̄i 7→ q̄i with the stabilizer of G at yi acting by inverse characters. 6. This result appears in several places.G .G is an algebraic stack. its Picard group is by definition the group of isomorphism classes of invertible sheaves on M (an invertible sheaf is given by invertible sheaves on every atlas of M. Picard groups of Hurwitz stacks We end these notes with a paragraph about the information on the covers which is not captured by the coarse moduli spaces. If a cover f : Y → X extends f0 there is a unique choice of coordinates pi . Choose one point yi ∈ f0−1 (xi ) above each xi . 6.6. One can expect that the invariants obtained in this way reflect the difference between the cases of tame and wild ramification. with branch locus D.g. q̄i at yi such that τ̄i := p̄i q̄i ∈ R and the map O eY0 . Let X0 be the special fiber of X. Hence. together with compatible isomorphisms between the sheaves for different choices of atlases). vi lying in the Henselian ring O eX. In particular. Define Def(f0 ) to be the set of isomorphism classes of lifts f of f0 . Moreover. if any two lifts of f0 are isomorphic. we can choose local étale coordinates ui . by in in theorem 5.

τ ) belongs to Hsm (1. — Let f : X → Y be a uniform cyclic cover as above. In this subsection all schemes are schemes over k. it is isomorphic to PnS locally for the étale topology. which is hyperelliptic curves.e. We denote by Hsm (n. A particular case is the computation of the Picard group of the stack of genus g hyperelliptic curves (as double covers of P1 ). up to isomorphism. we say that f has branch degree d if the sheaf L has degree d on any fiber over S. 2. and the divisor of Y defined by h is a relative Cartier divisor (the branch divisor of f ). φ). and the quotient Y = X/τ is a curve over S whose geometric fibres are projective lines. Definition 6. in characteristics 6= 2. The morphisms are µr - equivariant isomorphisms. with the following local property. L. To simplify the exposition we restrict the choice of the base scheme to a field with characteristic different from some ”bad” primes.336 M. hence is determined by the algebra structure on f∗ OX . Any such covering is affine. A (relative) uniform cyclic cover of Y is a morphism of S-schemes f : X → Y together with an action of µr on X/S. Example 6. it is equivalent to consider a uniform cyclic cover or a triple (Y. Due to the µr action this structure is particularly simple : there is an invertible sheaf L ∈ Pic(Y ) such that f∗ OX decomposes into eigenspaces f∗ OX = OY ⊕ L ⊕ L2 ⊕ · · · ⊕ Lr−1 Furthermore there is an injective morphism φ : Lr → OY and multiplication in f∗ OX is given by   s ⊗ t ∈ Li+j if i + j < r the product of s ∈ Li with t ∈ Lj is  (φ ⊗ id)(s ⊗ t) ∈ Li+j−r if i + j ≥ r It follows that. Except for this point. Definition 6. The last condition means that h ∈ R is a nonzerodivisor and R/h is flat over S.3. r. WEWERS stacks. — Let S be a scheme and Y an S-scheme. We denote by H(n. d be integers and k a field of characteristic p ≥ 0 such that p6 | 2rd.1. g + 1. — Let X be a smooth hyperelliptic curve over S. Thus (X. the first two definitions with their discussion can be better understood in example 6. The branch divisor of π : X → Y has degree equal to g +1 where g is the genus of X. ROMAGNY & S. i. There is given an involution τ : X → X.3 below. we keep the same generality as in [AV04]. r. So let n. d) the substack of uniform cyclic covers such that X is a smooth S-scheme. in the usual sense. Any point q ∈ Y has an open affine neighborhood V = Spec (R) such that f −1 (V ) is isomorphic to Spec (R[x]/xr − h) with the obvious action of µr .2. g +1). If Y → S is a Brauer-Severi scheme. For our main concern. r. SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . d) the stack of uniform cyclic covers of degree r and branch degree d of Brauer-Severi schemes of relative dimension n.

4. rd)) → PicG (Asm (n. Lemma 6.g. rd)).e. r. Precisely. k × ) = G b . More precisely. a suitable power generates G. factors through GLn+1 /µd . — H(n. One SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . By theorem 6. L) ' (PnS .3 and 4.15. d) is isomorphic to the quotient stack [A(n. — From now on we set G = GLn+1 /µd and we denote by A the polynomial ring of functions of A(n. (The d-th roots of unity are viewed as scalar diagonal matrices. . O(−d)) (the model of the rigidification) with GLn+1 /µd . 1.6. Theorem 6. rd) is the complement in A(n. We use the surjective restriction map r : PicG (A(n. Moreover. one introduces a stack whose objects are the objects of H(n.5 we have Pic(Hsm (n. rd) by changes of variables. Proof.) This action stabilizes Asm (n. This is classical. A× ) = H 1 (G. 1. rd). O(−d)). d) is finite cyclic of order r(rd − 1)n gcd(n + 1. When the non-equivariant Picard group is trivial. rd)/(GLn+1 /µd )] The same holds with ”sm” subscripts. The natural action of the linear group GLn+1 on A(n. Thus b PicG (A(n. xn ) where F is a homogeneous form. rd) : intuitively the uniform cyclic covers in here are given by an equation y r = F (x0 . see e. . r. rd) := set of homogeneous forms of degree rd in n + 1 variables Asm (n. The result follows. rd). PicG is just the set of isomorphism classes of G-linearizations of the structure sheaf. HURWITZ SPACES 337 When Y = PnS . c b Since GLn+1 is generated by the determinant. .→ GL The epimorphism GLn+1 → G induces an injection on character groups G c n+1 . d)) ' PicG (Asm (n. — The Picard group of Hsm (n. [GKZ94]. Asm (n. — The proof is similar to the classical construction of Mg as the quotient [HilbP P5g−6 /PGL5g−6 ]. thanks to the µr action we can write down an equation for a uniform cyclic cover. This stack is isomorphic to A(n. r. i. d) together with a rigidification ψ : (Y. — The discriminant of the generic form in A(n. The coefficients of the equation lie in an affine space.5. rd) defines an irreducible hypersurface ∆ of degree (n + 1)(rd − 1)n . This is the key point of the result. let A(n. rd)). Then one identifies the automorphism group of (PnS . d) Proof. rd) of ∆. r. . rd) is just affine space of dimension rd+n n . rd) := open set of smooth forms. chap. k × ) = Hom(G. with nonzero discriminant  Thus A(n. Theorem 6. rd)) ' H 1 (G.

However. Using χ(L) = χ(f∗ OX ) − χ(OY ) and the Riemann-Roch theorem.338 M. Let f = 0 be an equation for ∆.4) we have A[1/f ]× = {af n . n ∈ Z} ' k × × Z so it only remains to compute the ”weight” of f . 6. 6. The main change is that Z/2Z is not anymore isomorphic to the diagonalizable µ2 . ROMAGNY & S.2. Using Serre duality one shows Ext1 (O(−m). In any case we recognize an equivariant analog of the classical exact sequence Z → Pic(X) → Pic(U ) → 0 ([Har77].rd) = A ^] e induces the trivial linearization of OA (n. Lemma 6. The multiplication in the sheaf of algebras is known once we know how to multiply sections of L. As f is irreducible (lemma 6. — Let g ≥ 1 and m = g+1. WEWERS finds immediately that the generator is det such that det(ḡ) = (det(g))d/gcd(n+1. Arsie and Vistoli use the equivariant cycle groups of [EG98]. SÉMINAIRES & CONGRÈS 13 . Proof. g + 1) (the stack of smooth hyperelliptic curves) over a field of characteristic prime to 2(g + 1). if a linearization of OA(n. Therefore the description of Z/2Z- covers of arbitrary schemes. Corollary 6. is a little more complicated. Then.rd) = A[1/f sm × then it is conjugated to the trivial linearization by an element λ ∈ A[1/f ] . 2. O) = 0 so the exact sequence 0 → OY → f∗ OX → L → 0 splits. étale locally on S.d) where g ∈ GLn+1 is a lift of ḡ ∈ G It remains to identify the kernel of r.4).8. — The Picard group of the stack Hsm (1.7.d) ḡ. One checks that −r(rd−1)n gcd(n+1. and 8g + 4 if g is odd. φ) where f∗ OX ' OY ⊕L and φ : L2 → OY ⊕L. — In the case where the field k has characteristic 2. is cyclic of order 4g + 2 if g is even. we have deg(L) = χ(L) − 1 = −g − 1 = −m Hence after an étale extension S 0 → S we can assume that Y ' P1S and L ' OP1S (−m). — Let L be the cokernel of the natural injection OY → f∗ OX . g + 1) ⊗ F2 (definition 6. the situation is better locally on the base. Let f : X → Y be the quotient by τ . Let X → S be a smooth hyperelliptic curve of genus g with involution τ . Bertin [Ber06] adapts the arguments in order to compute the Picard group of the stack of hyperelliptic curves. This is given by a morphism φ : L2 → OY ⊕ L. for covers of Brauer-Severi schemes.5 and 6.2). The result follows. The proof above is slightly different from the one in [AV04]. then use lemma 6. a ∈ k × .16). L. f can be described by a triple (Y. II. By definition. although it essentially amounts to the same thing. 2. Hyperelliptic curves in char 2 after Bertin. in terms of invertible sheaves. In this subsection we put Hg := Hsm (1. Thus f∗ OX ' OY ⊕ L.f = det(ḡ) f (it is enough to check this for g a homothety.

11. Therefore. B) such that the corre- sponding curve is smooth and separable over P1 . These correspond to global sections A ∈ H 0 (O(m)) and B ∈ H 0 (O(2m)). — The Picard group of Hg is finite cyclic of order 4g + 2 if g is even. or two morphisms L2 → L and L2 → OY .9. Fix a prime p > 2 and a field k of characteristic different from 2. denoted P. HURWITZ SPACES 339 It is the same thing to consider φ as above.12. 1) Lemma 6. We refer to [Ber06] for the proof. using an exact sequence Z → PicG (A3m+2 ) → PicG (A3m+2 − ∆) → 0. The Picard group of any of them is iso- morphic to Z/2Z × Z/2pZ. The result of this is the following : Theorem 6. Now. whether we are in odd characteristic or in characteristic two. in order to prove the analog of theorem 6. SOCIÉTÉ MATHÉMATIQUE DE FRANCE 2006 . It is remarkable that the result is the same. the so-called Potts curves. and 8g + 4 is g is odd. Its Picard group is as follows. O ⊕ O(−m)). The character group of G is again generated by a power of the determinant because the unipotent part (Ga )m+1 has no characters. Here.5 one uses rigidifications ψ : (Y. (Ga )m+1 is the group of global sections of O(m) and the action of GL2 /µm is the natural action on homogeneous coordinates. Note that it is more subtle in this case than in the odd characteristic case. Then P has p − 1 smooth connected components which are all isomorphic. Theorem 6. B has equation y 2 = A(x. OY ⊕ L) ' (P1S . To prove this.6. — (i) Assume char(k) 6= p. It can be computed that the automorphism group of the model is (Ga )m+1 o (GL2 /µm ). over the complement of ∞ in P1 the curve described by A.10. Corollary 6. 6. not to be expected in general. This shows that the coincidence of the Picard groups for hyperelliptic curves in all characteristics is an exceptional phenomenon. a Potts curve is a hyperelliptic curve of genus p − 1 which is a Galois covering of degree p of P1 . — The locus in A3m+2 of the pairs of forms (A. Intuitively. 1)y + B(x. rd) in 6. An example with p > 2. — In this subsection. The stack of Potts curves is a 1-dimensional algebraic stack over k. is the complement of an irreducible hypersurface ∆. we content ourselves with giving the Picard group of the stack of a family of covers of degree p of P1 .1 is affine space A3m+2 = Am+1 × A2m+1 . one proceeds like in the proof of 6. By definition. — We have an isomorphism of stacks Hg ' [A3m+2 − ∆/G] where G = (Ga )m+1 o (GL2 /µm ). the analog of the affine space A(n.3.

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